The central IT department for the French government has granted a €2 million contract to support 350 different open source tools throughout fifteen different ministries. The three to four year contract, which was officially tendered last year, was awarded to consulting companies Alter Way, Capgemini and Java specialist Zenika.
The supported software and technologies include several Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS and programs including Firefox, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, OpenERP, Nagios, Drupal. Programming languages such as PHP and Python are also within its scope.
The government's IT department is requiring the companies to give back improvements made to the open source code they are supporting to the respective communities as part of the contract. The current contract only covers bug fixes and maintenance of existing installations, development of new features will be covered by a new tender which has not yet been published. Not participating in the contract is the French Ministry of Economy, Finances and Industry which has awarded its own open source support contract.
Eight years ago, a similar contract had failed, resulting in "expensive proprietary software solutions" being rolled out throughout the French government, according to the news site LeMagIT. Therefore, aside from saving costs, increased and more sustainable adoption of open source tools is a priority.